Thinking Outside the Dox: What IT Security Can Learn From Doxing

Thinking Outside the Dox: What IT Security Can Learn From Doxing

Doxing is rightfully regarded as a dangerous threat, potentially exposing personal information where it shouldn’t be. But, defenses derived from doxing may strengthen corporate cybersecurity at scale. 


Doxing is the dark side to widespread data dispersal and discovery. Data is leveraged to harm individuals or organizations, often as retaliation for real or perceived slights. As a result, both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Center for Internet Security (CIS) have issued recommendations around reduced data sharing to limit overall risk.


Here’s how companies can think outside the dox — and may be able to repurpose this aggressive attack avenue as an IT security double agent. Much like the hacker uptake of attacker efforts around zero-day vulnerabilities and advanced email compromise, IT teams can benefit from self-doxing programs designed to discover defensive gaps before attackers can exploit them.


What is Doxing?


Doxing (also spelled doxxing) started in the 1990s long before digital social sharing was commonplace. While online identities were created and cultivated by users, their personal privacy remained sacrosanct. Anonymity was highly valued and generally respected until tensions between skilled users reached a boiling point.


These digital disagreements culminated in the search for documentation that revealed the legal name of key rivals, at which point attackers would “drop docs” into online forums that exposed protected data. Over time, the “drop” disappeared, the “docs” was shortened to “dox” and the term expanded to cover the release of names and addresses to financial data or corporate corre ..